Jeannette Mitchell, a resident of Weedsport, found herself trapped in a Buffalo-area Walmart with her family for nearly 24 hours during the Christmas Weekend Blizzard. They were visiting family in the area and had anticipated the storm, but were caught in the middle of it as snow and wind picked up around 11 a.m.
The family tried to make their way to a hotel, but the storm was too severe.
According to Mitchell, the experience was “more than a typical Buffalo snowstorm.” The family was prepared, but not as prepared as would’ve been necessary to endure a day or more in their vehicle.
The storm hit around midday on Friday and made it difficult to see more than 15 feet in front of the car, Mitchell said. The family drove at a slow pace and pulled over to wait it out, but conditions only worsened. They eventually found shelter in the Walmart parking lot, which turned into the store itself.
Once inside the family found a group of people who had also been stranded. Some had been there for hours, while others had spent the night. The store was crowded and chaotic, with people trying to find warm clothing and other necessities. Despite the difficulties, the family was able to find some items to make their stay more comfortable, including inflatable matresses, blankets, and pillows.
The family spent the night in the store with about 40 people and were eventually able to leave the next day. They made the two hour drive back to Weedsport, grateful to have made it through the ordeal safely.
The Christmas Weekend Blizzard was a deadly, historic event, with record-breaking snowfall and widespread power outages. Mitchell and her family were a few of the many people affected by the storm, but their experience serves as a reminder of the importance of being prepared for extreme weather events.
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